Torn-Down Tuesday: Niagara and Amherst streets, 1971

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

“One gateway to Riverside” was the title of this photo when it was published in The News in 1971.

Buffalo News archives

“The photo (is) in the immediate vicinity of Amherst and Niagara Sts., where traffic from the Niagara section of the Thruway makes one of its exits into the Riverside-Black Rock area.

“It IS an old area. Some of its settlers were there before the turn of the century. They were property proud. But the community’s pride has suffered in recent years. Blight has made incursions there too.”

This old tavern was built as a “store block and row of flats” by Frederick Lenz in 1909. A tavern since at least 1919, it was known through the years as Charles Haas’ saloon, Bob & Ginger’s Saloon, the River-Rock Grill, and Millitello’s, among other names.

The building’s location — only yards from the watery international border — made it a hot spot during Prohibition years. In 1929, Augusta Lindforth was arrested behind the bar while tending four half-barrels of beer.

The spot where this building stood — southwest corner of Niagara and Amherst — has been a parking lot for decades now.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Howard Johnson’s on Delaware at North

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The subject of the photo is clearly the women marching in a World War II era Memorial Day parade, but happily captured along with the ladies paying homage to our nation’s war dead is Buffalo’s original Howard Johnson’s Restaurant.

With wartime sugar rationing in effect, in was written, At Howard Johnson's the waitress will bring one lump; two if you insist, and carefully oversees dishing out the bulk sugar for iced tea or coffee. (Buffalo News archives)

With wartime sugar rationing in effect, it was written, “At Howard Johnson’s the waitress will bring one lump; two if you insist, and carefully oversees dishing out the bulk sugar for iced tea or coffee.” (Buffalo News archives)

Generations of Americans remember the homestyle dinners and 28-flavor ice cream selection at the more than 1,000 Howard Johnson’s orange-roofed locations around the country.

Buffalo’s most popular HoJo’s was this one at Delaware and North starting around 1941. The restaurant was a part of the sometimes-strange development of Delaware Avenue. Working class families piled out of wood-paneled, American-made station wagons right across the street from the home of News Publisher and Buffalo aristocrat Edward Butler.

The restaurant was remodeled in 1960, and remained a familiar landmark for the next three decades.

Buffalo Stories archives

Buffalo Stories archives

Walgreens purchased what was Buffalo’s last Howard Johnson’s location and built a drug store at the site on Delaware and North in 1994.

Torn-down Tuesday: Ice cold beers in Williamsville, 1888

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When Matt Horey died in 1926, he was remembered in The News as “well-known in Williamsville and surrounding areas, having had a place of business at the corner of Main and Cayuga Streets.” The business, depending on which description you believe, was either a hall, a hotel, a saloon or a tavern.

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This photo appeared in The News in 1949, courtesy of the Horey family.

Aside from a tavern, Horey’s was also a regular polling place around the turn of the 20th century.

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The building was torn down in 1923 to make way for a bank building, which was a Liberty Bank branch for many years.

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It’s now the home of a Bank of America branch.

Torn-down Tuesday: Shelton Square in 1964

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Until the lifeless and drab Main Place Mall and Tower replaced its character-filled old buildings, billboards and neon signs, Shelton Square was more or less Buffalo’s version of Times Square.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

It was the city’s crossroads; it was bright and vibrant. It was the place where people transferred streetcars and buses — just about every line in the city came through. Standing in Shelton Square, you were a few blocks from the Crystal Beach Boat in one direction, a few blocks from the Town Casino the other way. It was the middle of the action that was Buffalo.

If you remember it, it was a special place.

It was filled with character and characters. There was Domenic Battaglia, who ran the newsstand shown at Niagara and Main starting in 1929 “with his oversized cap, news apron and halfchewed cigar.” His News obituary called him “a goodnatured curmudgeon who was out daily in all kinds of weather to sell newspapers and magazines. He never wore gloves even on the coldest days and often heckled his customers who did.”

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Battaglia’s newsstand is in front of the Harvey & Carey Drug store at Main and Niagara.

He moved to Main and Church when the entire Niagara Street was eliminated from the map, now underneath the Main Place Tower.

In the very foreground of the photo is the top of the Palace Burlesk sign. George Kunz, whose beautifully crafted memories of days gone by used to appear in The News, wrote “the Palace exuded life. Pedestrians passing during showtime heard raucous, robust sounds of extravagant fun. The orchestra blared, drums rumbled and laughter, a rollicking outrageous laughter, tumbled out the doors onto Main Street.”

“Such was the theater’s fame that for years the Palace was used as a focus for any downtown geographical instructions,” wrote Kunz in 1993. “’You know where the Palace is . . . well, you turn right there.’ Everybody remembered the lively marquee with the dancing girl figures kicking endlessly to the rhythm of blinking lights.”

Right next door to the Palace, disc jockey Tom Clay — known as “Guy King” on WWOL Radio – ushered in the rock ‘n’ roll era in Buffalo on July 3, 1955, when he climbed out of the station’s window and onto the giant WWOL billboard.

There, he urged the teens in his audience to drive to Shelton Square and honk their horns if they wanted to hear Bill Haley and The Comets’ “Rock Around the Clock.” They did in huge numbers, and he kept playing “Rock Around the Clock” until the fire department showed up with a ladder truck to help police get him off the billboard. After climbing back in the station window, he was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for the stunt.

On the pages of The News, Janice Okun wrote about Hughes Restaurant, “the dingy old coffee shop on Shelton Square where you sat on high stools at even higher marble tables and injected fat into yourself in the form of Snappy Cheese Sandwiches, while drinking coffee from a clunky mug carefully. Because if you dropped the mug, it would break a toe.”

Minnie Feiner’s had high tables, too. And there was Minnie Messina’s cafeteria through the ’50s and ’60s.

In 1965, most of the buildings in this photo started to come down. In December, it was announced the new $20 million complex being built in its place was given a name “big enough for such a big project — Main Place.”

This part of Niagara Street is now covered by the Main Place Tower.

This block of Niagara Street, between Main and Pearl, is now covered by the Main Place Tower. City Hall (upper left) and the McKinley Monument were visible from Main Street at Shelton Square until 1968.

At the time, editorial page writers panned the name, saying it wasn’t distinctive and was “anything but appealing.”

One writer said, “It’s a terrible name. It grates on one’s ears. … It certainly wasn’t given too much thought.”

In hindsight, though, it’s probably better that the name many wanted to keep — Shelton Square — was retired. It makes it easier to give a name to the memories.

A 1980's view of Main Street, with the Main Place Mall and Tower on the right, and Woolworth's and AM&A's on the left.

A 1980s view of Main Street, with the Main Place Mall and Tower on the right and Woolworth’s and AM&A’s on the left.

Torn-Down Tuesday: The Bailey Homestead, circa 1880

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When William Bailey bought the land on both sides of what is now Bailey Avenue between Broadway and William, it was little more than a wooded trail. “Bailey’s Road” became Bailey Avenue when the right of way was donated to the city in 1854.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

After coming to Buffalo via the Erie Canal in 1830, Bailey built his home along Batavia Street, now Broadway, near Bailey Avenue.  The trees cleared from his property became the timber backbone of one of America’s fastest-growing cities in the second half of the nineteenth century. When New York Central first laid down tracks across Buffalo’s East Side, they did it through Bailey’s backyard. He also quarried the stone needed for the railbeds and bridges that New York Central went on to build in the area.

In 1856, Bailey built a palatial home at Franklin and Tupper, which was long remembered as Buffalo’s first building with plate glass windows.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Sattler’s at 998 Broadway

Despite having been gone for almost 35 years, Buffalonians still have only one thought when they hear the address 998 Broadway.

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Buffalo News archives

This photo of Sattler’s location at 998 Broadway was taken the day founder John G. Sattler died in 1941. As a teenager, Sattler opened a shoe store in the living room of his mother’s home at 992 Broadway. His business would grow and add product lines, becoming a marketing juggernaut and the backbone of the Broadway-Fillmore shopping district.

Buffalo News archives, 1978.

Buffalo News archives, 1978.

The store’s odd and interesting array of bargains, big events like their Christmas parade and that first-of-its-kind “Shop and Save at Sattler’s, 998 Broadway” jingle made the store a destination for people from all over Western New York. In the 1960s, Sattler’s became an anchor tenant in a handful of Western New York’s new shopping malls.

The Boulevard Mall Sattlers, 1980. (Buffalo News archives)

The Boulevard Mall Sattler’s, 1980. (Buffalo News archives)

Sattler’s went out of business in 1982, but the landmark Broadway-Fillmore store was stripped of the Sattler name a year earlier. For its final 13 months, it was known as the 998 Clearance Center. It carried castaways from the Main Place, Boulevard and Seneca Mall locations.

The 998 location was torn down in 1988.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Ridge Road’s Golden Arches

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The building still stands, but the golden arches came down — at least figuratively — in October 1984, as one of Western New York’s longest-surviving original McDonald’s hamburger stands served up its last Big Mac.

Buffalo News archives

Buffalo News archives

After 20 years on Ridge Road, millions of hamburgers served, and employing about 6,000 Lackawanna teens through the years, The Steel City’s only McDonald’s shut its doors as the corporation was looking to modernize the original stands into the more familiar mansard-roofed 1980s buildings.

A similar-looking McDonald’s stand on Clinton Street was torn down and modernized around the same time this one was closed.

Torn-Down Tuesday: Super Flea, aka the Walden Flea Market

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

For decades, it was a weekend home-away-from-home for people who have stuff to sell and those on the endless quest for the perfect (if not slightly used) stuff.

Buffalo News archives, 1984

Buffalo News archives, 1984

While much of Super Flea’s buying and selling went on in the parking lot when weather allowed, the Super Flea building was a year-round weekend junk adventure.

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Super Flea moved into the structure originally built at a cost of $1.1 million by GEX, and opened in 1962. GEX was a membership department store for government employees, military personnel, and employees of companies which dealt with the government.

GEX

When it opened, GEX carried more than 80,000 items, in a single story store “the size of three football fields.”

GEX-departments

The building that was home to GEX then Super Flea for more than 50 years was torn down starting in 2014. A new Walmart Supercenter opened on the site in 2015.

 

Torn-Down Tuesday: Basil’s Colvin Theater

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

When it met with the wrecking ball in 1984, the Colvin Theater at Kenmore and Colvin was celebrated as “the last Art Deco picture show.”

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Opened in 1944 by the Basil brothers, the Colvin was one of about two dozen Basil theaters across Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Lackawanna. Nick, Gus, Bill and Tom Basil also owed the Lafayette on Lafayette Square, the Apollo on Jefferson Avenue, the Roxy on William Street, the Clinton-Strand on Clinton Street, the Varsity on Bailey Avenue, and the Victoria on West Ferry Street, among others.

Nicholas, Constantine, and Theophilos Basil (Buffalo News archives)

Nicholas, Constantine, and Theophilos Basil. (Buffalo News archives)

The construction of the theater began in 1941, and included a penthouse apartment above the theater. It was meant to be Nick Basil’s home, but he died in 1943, before the wartime construction lag allowed the building to be finished. Instead, Constantine “Gus” Basil and his family lived in the apartment—which afforded a view of the movie screen from their living room.

It might not seem like much now, but was something spectacular in the days before television. Apartment lights dimmed automatically when the living room curtain opened to the movie screen. m

It might not seem like much now, but was something spectacular in the days before television. Apartment lights dimmed automatically when the living room curtain opened to the movie screen.

The theater sat more than 900 people, and had parking for 300 cars. When it opened it was feted as one of America’s most modern movie houses in trade magazines like “The Motion Picture Herald.”

It opened as a second-run movie house, with the first-run films saved for the big theaters downtown, like Basil’s Lafayette. The actual film that played at the Lafayette would work its way through the Basil show houses, until it got to Colvin. But by the end of the ’50s, the Colvin was Basil’s most profitable building, and was soon showing first-run movies. The 1962 James Bond film “Dr. No” was shown at the Colvin the same time as the big theaters downtown. It was the first time a major film premiered locally in a theater anywhere else but in downtown Buffalo.

The theater’s lobby boasted leather-quilted walls and marble columns, with soft pink lighting.

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“Downstairs in the theater,” wrote News critic Anthony Bannon, “the late Art Deco style called Art Moderne shows itself more clearly, with soft rounded corners of an inner and outer lobby and smooth walls without ornamentation.” The look, wrote Bannon, echoed the streamed lines of railroad engines and automobiles built in the same era.

The Colvin was torn down in spring 1984, and an 11-story apartment tower was built by the Kenmore Housing Authority with 100 units for senior citizens.

Torn-Down Tuesday: The Mansion House, Main & Exchange, 1932

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

The Mansion House was built on the ground one of Buffalo’s early taverns and hotels. Originally known as Crow’s Tavern, the place was bought by Phillip Landon, an early surveyor of Buffalo, in 1806.

Buffalo News archives

(Buffalo News archives)

Landon’s public house served as Buffalo’s first public school as well as Buffalo’s first county courtroom.

The original tavern was destroyed when the British burned Buffalo in 1813.  Phillip Dorsheimer bought the entire block, and built a five-story building. Another floor was added, and that rebuilt gin mill was styled into a modern hotel by new owner Rebecca Wheeler in 1829.

For the next 100 years, the hotel served Buffalo’s elite arriving first by stage coach, then by canal and then by rail.

“The Mansion House, the career of which abounds in color and historic lore, was host to aristocracy of its day,” wrote The News as the building was slated for demolition in 1932.

The structure was called “one of the most outstanding landmarks in Buffalo’s history” weeks before it was taken down, to make way for buildings to be utilized by the New York Central Railroad.

The New York Central right-of-ways were then sold to New York State for the building of the I-190.

Piers holding up the I-190 now occupy the space once home to Mansion House.